These days, I feel like the world could really use more kindness. Looking around outside, I can’t help but notice that it seems to be in pretty short supply. But why does kindness matter? What does it mean to be kind? Kindness is one of the greatest gifts we’ve been given, and it’s up to us to keep it going.
One of the most important things to realize about kindness is that it can only be expressed by someone who’s experienced it. Kindness is something that’s passed on. It’s something that has to be learned—and taught. And kindness can be as simple as you want it to be. It’s not only found in grand gestures and expensive gifts. It’s found in the little things, like making eye contact and smiling when you’re talking to the person making your coffee or ringing up your groceries. Help people remember that they’re important, that they deserve respect and courtesy.
Being kind isn’t just a matter of helping someone who asks for it. It’s much more than that. Being kind is also about imagining yourself as another person, anticipating their needs, and offering help before it’s asked for. After my first divorce, when I was distraught over the breakup of my marriage and overwhelmed by the reality of having to raise two small children on my own, I was touched by the many kindnesses that my friends and family showed me. Their kindness and love helped me to see that I could get through the tough time that I was having. I’ve never forgotten that, and now I try to bring kindness to others when they’re in difficult situations too.
Bringing kindness to others is a wonderful thing to do. But we can’t be kind to others if we aren’t kind to ourselves. When I tell my daughter to be kind, I mean to herself first and foremost. It’s no good trying to extend kindness, grace, and mercy to those around us if we are unable, or unwilling, to extend that same grace and kindness to ourselves first.
It’s easy sometimes to get caught up in our daily struggles and to forget that we are all struggling. All of us are flawed, imperfect people living in a flawed, imperfect world. But we’ve been given the amazing gifts of love and empathy to help us reach out to each other. And, most importantly, we’ve been given the ability to be kind—to ourselves and to those around us.
If you want to see more kindness, it’s important to realize that it all begins with us. We have the power to tilt the balance of life in a positive direction. We may not be able to have everything we want in life, but we can always do something to make someone’s day brighter. Practice kindness. Show the kindness you want to see in the world. Even if the kindness you show someone isn’t returned, you still haven’t lost a thing.